Clubs 1900-1950

Britain's first modern nightclub was founded in a basement off Regent's Street in 1912. Named 'The Cave of the Golden Calf', it was an attempt to re-create in London the artistic cabaret theatres of Zurich and Vienna. Its founder was Frida Strindberg, second wife of the Norwegian playwright.

The club attracted the intelligentsia of pre-first world war London. Dramatic Vorticist decorations by Wyndham Lewis and Jacob Epstein provided the backdrop to legendary scenes of drinking and dancing. The club lost money rapidly and closed in 1914.

The 1920s changed London's West End by transforming its nightlife. By the end of the decade, over 50 licensed night clubs were operating around London, many patronised by upper class socialites. Some just provided a dance floor and others offered cabaret. Famous clubs included the Kit Cat club, the 'Bag of Nails' and the 'Coconut Grove'.

Many unlicensed clubs operated on the fringes of the criminal underworld. These 'bottle parties' were frequently raided by the police. The queen of the bottle party was an Irish business woman Kate Meyrick, who became something of a celebrity in the 1920s for her ingenuity in evading the licensing laws.

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